5 Tips for Removing Broken Glass From Feet or Hands

If you can’t remove glass from your skin and it’s causing pain – you should read this article


 

So you accidentally tip a glass off the counter and it falls to the floor. It shatters into a million pieces and now is everywhere. You clean it up but you miss some tiny shards. Later you walk barefoot and a glass goes into your foot. You try removing but you can’t see it. You leave it alone hoping it will work itself out. But it never does, it just goes deeper and deeper.

This is what happened to me two years ago and I still have it inside my foot. Broken glass can quickly penetrate your skin leaving no detectable entrance point, and cause no inflammation. Your skin will heal and seal the glass inside your foot or hands. The only thing you’ll feel is pain and discomfort.

Glass shards just keep going in and never out. You must aggressively remove them ASAP. Don’t think a shard of glass will work itself out. This is a common mistaken  lots of people do.

If you are facing this kind of problem, I like to share what I’ve learned with you. Just so you know, some glasses might never be able to be removed. The good news is that there are things you can to do that will stop hurting.

My story

After realizing the broken glass would not come out on its won, I begun by soaking my feet in hot water and salt. This is a good idea because hot water relaxes and expand your skin and tissues while salt gently pull things because it creates a hypertonic environment; since salt has a greater concentration of solutes. But this only works if you act immediately after the glass goes in and it’s not very deep yet.

I did this for weeks but it didn’t work. The glass had already gone deep and my skin sealed it in. You might be able to poke holes on your skin with a sterile needle creating a way out. (not for the faint of heart)

So, I went to a doctor. Doctors will look at it for a moment and order tests. I went to 5 different doctors. I had multiple X-rays, ultrasound scans, MRI, CAT scans.

I even had a highly specialized high frequency transducer hokey stick puck ultrasound. This fancy machine might work in some cases because it can detect broken glass much better than your average doctor’s office ultrasound. This may help you but its hard to find a doctor that even know what that is. I happened to be lucky to work with a doctor who knew someone who did.

None of the doctor I visited were able to find a definite landmark leading to surgery. Doctors will not perform surgery unless they can see it, and I don’t blame them. And if you get them to agree to a exploratory surgery you might end up with more damage then you already have from the piece of broken glass. Surgery can cause damage and scar tissue and the broken glass does the same.

If you have a piece of broken glass inside your foot for a long time; the glass might not even be there anymore. The body have ways to assimilate it after a few years. So why do I still feel the broken glass in my foot? You are left with scar tissue and that can be equally painful. Scar tissue can feel exactly as a piece of broken grass.

After a few weeks inside your foot, a shard of broken glass is identified as a foreign body and is encased by scar tissue. But your body is so efficient isolating the glass it aggressively makes a hard and strong capsule around the broken glass. Sometimes it is so big and hard it presses against nerves and create nerve inflammation. So you feel like you’re stepping on a hard lump and it can cause great discomfort. So if you can’t remove it by surgery because you risk causing more painful scar tissue, what do you do?

Cortisone injection

This is what made a difference to me. Cortisone will dissolve or alter the shape of your scar tissue created by glass. But this is not a simple process as it seem. You have to actively work with it until is healed. There is also a trick on how to apply the injection as I have learned.

When you are getting the injection, tell you doctor to place the needle inside the scar tissue or it will not work. This is why my first two injections failed. The scar tissue is usually very small. So you need to locate it the exact spot and this might be a challenge.



If you are about to perform an injection you need to massage the area and feel the painful lumpy area. Then you instruct your doctor to apply the injection from the bottom up, directly into the scar tissue. Some doctors might want to approach the spot from the side and that may not work.

If you hit the spot just right you’ll feel a lot of pain for 2 days, and that is a good sign. If you don’t hit the spot usually there is no pain and just a numb sensation that lasts a few hours and nothing happens. So once the pain subsides you’ll feel that 80% of the discomfort is gone, now you have to help your body heal.

Scar tissue is a complex and edgy and needs to be brushed out of the nerve structures. So here’s what I’m doing and I still in the process. What I can say is that I feel so much better is like you have a new life. After cotisone shots you still have some more work to do.

Soaking and massage

I bought an foot soaker basin with vibration at my local pharmacy. I soak in hot water for 20 minutes everyday and than massage it with arnica oil. This oil have great nerve medicinal properties and it is also used for diabetic nerve pain. I massage the area vigorously for a few minutes and every time I do it gets better.

So after 2 years of suffering with a shard of glass on my foot I finally found some relief. But it was only after understanding what happened inside I was able to get results. I never thought a small shard of glass could cause so much trouble. The best way to prevent this from happening is to not step on a shard of glass in the first place.

Broken glass does not travel to other areas

One big fear people have is that broken glass piece can move inside the body and go to different areas, and eventually get into the blood stream – that does not happen due to the fast and effective scar tissue process. The danger is that if the glass is very big it can cause severe damage to your nerves and tendons but if the shard is very small it just get covered with scar tissue and stop at about 0.5 cm from the surface of the skin.

So if you have a shard of glass on your foot for a few months what you feel is a lumpy sharp thing that is easily mistook for a pointy glass but actually it is not. According to my research, the shard is eventually eliminated from your body and what leaves only scar tissue that might be pressing a nerve.

Here is what you do first after stepping on glass

Trick #1 – remove it as soon as you can

If a shard goes in. Removed it as soon as you can. Get a sterile tweezer or a needle and dig, dig, dig until you remove a large part of you skin ensuring the shard is out. Soak it with hot water and salt for 20 min everyday until you don’t feel anything at all. What you don’t want is to let a bunch of time go by thinking that it will come out on its own. The deeper the glass goes in the more difficult or impossible it will be to remove and the more chances of affecting a nerve.

Trick #2 – soaking in hot water

Soaking in hot water at this point will help you body to push the shard out. Use epson salts because not only is hyper tonic but also help the skin to soften up allowing you to work easily, you can also add table salt to the mixture. The important thing is that you do it everyday.

Trick #3 – use suction

The bottle trick. This is one I wished I knew at the beginning. Heat a small bottle such as a medicine of condiment bottle that have a small mouth.  Clean your skin where the shard is and dry. Once the bottle begins to cool it will produce pressure and start sucking everything out of your skin. It could work in some cases.

Trick #4 – remove by thick tar

Apply ichthammol ointment. This is a old fashion medication. A thick black tarry substance that will pull things out of your skin. Just going to warn you – this is a nasty oil that is difficult to clean and very thick

Trick #5 – remove by using glue

Use glue. This could work if the shard of glass is somewhat protruding out of your feet but not enough to be grabbed. Apply crazy glue to a small area where the shard is and try to  peel it off. it will attach to the glass and bring it out when you peel it off.

 

One last thing – if you break a glass, clean it up with a wet towel to the floor


Arnica Oil


 

 

Resources:

  1. Management of Foreign Bodies in the Skin
  2. Sonography of the Hand and Foot in Foreign Body Detection
  3. Non-opaque soft tissue foreign body: sonographic findings
  4. Detection of Soft Tissue Foreign Bodies in the Presence of Soft Tissue Gas
  5. US of Soft-Tissue Foreign Bodies and Associated Complications with Surgical Correlation

Image credit: Charli Lopez

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